Régime which had been so discriminating
. Disregard for the ordinary people, the
(common herd), was a major feature of the Ancien Régime as a system;For the quest for
...coexisted with a classically derived disdain for the plaudits of the
„the common herd‟...‟popularity‟ [was] a word that continued to
have strongly pejorative connotations well into the eighteenth century.
Though social change may have been a systemic response to the social set
up of the AncienRégime, King Louis XVI did not deal with the situation efficiently. As Timothy Tackettwrites;The nobles and the upper-class commoners were converging...when the two groupsfell into conflict in 1789 it was either a kind of accidental aberration...or a failure of imagination and leadership.
Louix XVI appeared inconsistent and indecisive in his attitude towards these new
revolutionary „upper –
class commoners‟. In his article „Louis XVI and Gustavus III: SecretDiplomacy and Counter Revolution‟, historian Munro Price makes the point that the king‟sattitude towards the Revolution is an issue which is “far from being resolved”.
that the king‟s unclear and apparently contradictory stance is because of the “dichotomy
between the actions Louis XVI was forced to take to satisfy the National Assembly and thepeople of Paris, and the very different views he transmitted to his fellow-
king advocated „enlightened absolutism‟ and was originally in favour of giving greater
representation to the third estate, yet he failed to do so.
At the Estates General of 1789, twovastly different draft declarations were drawn up beforehand
, demonstrating seriousindec
ision on the king‟s part. He would continue to display this indecision and inconsistency
of policy. Had he adopted a single strong policy towards the social shifts, revolution wouldnot have so easily unfolded.Was it failure of leadership or systemic disillusion with the existing order that brought aboutpolitical change? Changing political ideology altered the views and expectations of peopletowards government. Many Marxist (and non
Marxist) historians would argue that the
Albert Mathiez, trans. Alison Phillips;
The French Revolution;
Williams and Norgate; London; 1927. 38.
John Adamson; „The Making of the Ancien Régime Court 1500 –
The Princely Courts of Europe 1500
ed. John Adamson; Weidenfield and Nicolson; London; 1999. 34.
Timothy Tackett ; „Nobles and Third Estate in the Revolutionary Dynamic of the National Assembly, 1789 –
The American Historical Review;
Vol. 94; No. 2; University of Chicago Press; 1989. 271.
Munro Price; „Louis XVI and
Gustavus III: Secret Diplomacy and Counter-Revolution, 1791-1792
The Historical Journal;
Vol. 42; No. 2; Cambridge University Press; 1999.p 435
The Fall of the French Monarchy: Louis XIV, Marie Antoinette and the Baron de Breteuil;
Macmillan Press; London; 2002. 58.